Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Car

Posted: January 10, 2022 in Transport

Saw this in Bexley High Street last week. It’s the car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a film made in 1968. It was loosely based on a book by Ian Fleming (of James Bond Fame) called the Magical Car. It starred Dick Van Dyke and was produced by Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli (producer of many of the original James Bind movies).

On a fine clear but cold day I decided to venture out to Upper College Farm, an area of rough ground, in Bexley Village. In the past 4 weeks it has been home to a rare visitor which breeds in NE Europe (Finland/ Russia) and at this time of year should be in Northern India or China.

It was a very confiding bird which fed along the path, totally oblivious of the people taking photos or watching it despite being only a few metres away. This is the third one I have seen in London, the last being at Walthamstow 4 years ago, but this was definitely the best views.

Norway Skies

Posted: December 30, 2021 in Norway, Norway's Coast

Some more pictures from our recent trip to Norway

This is the garden taken in February 2021. I wonder if we will see any snow this winter?

Those Northern Lights

Posted: December 23, 2021 in Norway

One of the main reasons for us going to Norway was to see the Northern Lights, We were fortunate to see them on 4 occasions during our cruise, the last of which was definitely the best. It is odd that they seem far more coloured in the photos than they do to the eye (this was explained to us as being due to the differences in the way the two lens collect and process light).

A fantastic sight!

Norway’s coastal towns

Posted: December 14, 2021 in Norway

One of the problems with visiting Norway at this time of year is the light. In the very north, the sun never rose above the horizon and so it was difficult to appreciate the best of the towns which we visited – Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, Bodo, Tromso, and a number of other smaller ports. So much so that Sue and I have resolved to return and redo the cruise in the summer, when we can fully explore these lovely places.

Stunning Scenery

Posted: December 8, 2021 in Norway, Norway's Coast

Sue and I are just back from a cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes along the Norweigan coast. The scenery was stunning!

I was reminded the other day of just how much our bird life has changed over the course of my birdwatching life (c40 years). Many of the species I regarded as regulars even 20 years ago have now become rare in, or indeed disappeared from, the UK and some species which we regarded as Mediteranean then are now common. Predominant amongst those are the white ‘Herons’ – Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Little Egret and Spoonbill. I remember it taking me around 10 years till I saw my first Little Egret. It became a species I kept missing, always arriving after it had moved on. Now I see them in my local park and more often than not, I see more of them than Grey Herons on trips to estuaries. They even breed in London now. The other 3 species also now breed in the UK and are found in increasing numbers and are no longer considered rarities. A sign of the changing time and climate.

The church of St Thomas the Apostle, Harty lies in the middle of Harty Marsh on the Isle of Sheppey, off the north coast of Kent. The Church dates from the late 11th or early 12th century, with later additions in the late 14th or early 15th century. It was last restored in 1878-80. The village of Harty is mentioned in the doomsday book (1086) and was a much busier place until the ferry between the island and the mainland stopped running in 1946 (replaced by a bridge at the western end of the island). It is now surrounded by farmland and nature reserves.

Inside there are a number of features worth seeing including the Rood Screen (1350-75) and a 14th-century Flemish chest. The stained glass, although mostly 20th century has many themes connected to local farming.

Last week Keith, Sue, and I spent a day birdwatching on the Isle of Sheppey, off the north coast of Kent. Our first stop was south of the town of Leysdown on the eastern end of the island. There had been a party of Shore Larks here for a few days and we hoped to catch up with these attractive but increasingly rare winter visitors to the UK. We had only just arrived when a pair of birdwatchers further along the sea wall were signalling to us and we were soon looking at a group of 4 Shore larks on the field below us. They then flew up onto the sea wall to give us even clearer views. There was also a large party of Brent Geese on the mudflats.

From here we drove west and took the Harty road towards the south coast of the island. This long and winding road crosses Harty Marshes with opportunities for birdwatching along the route. At one stop we saw a distant White-fronted Goose in a field, but we were struck by the absence of birds of prey, except for a lone Kestrel, along the way. This may in part have been a result of the strong winds that were blowing all day.

At the end of this road is Harty Ferry, the site of the old ferry to the mainland (now replaced by a road bridge at the western end). Scanning the marshes, we had a selection of wading birds including Oystercatcher, Curlew and a single Godwit. Two Marsh harriers were seen distantly but along with another two kestrels, these were the only birds of Prey.

Soon it was time to make our way back across Harty Marsh towards home, stopping briefly at a site just by the bridge to the mainland, where we saw a small flock of thrushes. Unfortunately, we were unable to identify them before they flew off. Were these a group of newly arrived winter thrushes?

A good day with the highlight being the wonderful views of Shore Lark.